Each year the Tempe Fire Department responds to medical calls related to the effects Arizona’s high temperatures. People suffer heat-related illness when body temperatures become overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but under some conditions, sweating isn't enough. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
To help avoid heat-related illnesses, remember these warm weather tips:
• Increase your fluid intake regardless of your activity level
• Drink two to four glasses of cool liquid like fruit juice each hour during heavy exercise
• Avoid very cold beverages because they can cause stomach cramps
• Avoid drinks that contain alcohol
• Avoid salt tablets unless directed by your doctor
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat
• Use sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher
• Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply regularly
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals as they add heat to your body
• Do not leave infants, children or pets in a parked car
• Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with a hat
• Limit sun exposure during the mid-day hours
• Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home
• Rest frequently in a shady or air conditioned area
• A cool shower or bath is an effective way to cool off
Use The Buddy System - When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older have a friend or relative check on you during the day. If you know anyone in this age group, check on them during the day.
Monitor Those at High Risk - Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include infants and children, people 65 years of age or older. people who are overweight, people who overexert during work or exercise and people who are ill or on certain medications. If you or someone you know is at higher risk, it is important to drink plenty of fluids; avoid overexertion; and get your doctor or pharmacist's advice about medications taken for high blood pressure, depression, nervousness, mental illness, insomnia or poor circulation.
Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• an extremely high body temperature (above 103° F)
• red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
• rapid, strong pulse
• throbbing headache
What to do for heat stroke:
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can.
• Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Get medical assistance as soon as possible, call 9-1-1.
• Sometimes a victim's muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably, if this happens, keep the victim from injuring himself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids.
• If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.
Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. They may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms usually in the abdomen, arms or legs. Seek medical attention if the person has heart problems or are on a low sodium diet or if the heat cramps do not subside in one hour. If medical attention is not necessary, stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place. Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
Sunburn should be avoided because it is damaging to the skin. Although the discomfort is usually minor and healing often occurs in about a week, a more severe sunburn may require medical attention. Consult a doctor if the sunburn affects an infant under one year of age or if the person has a fever, fluid-filled blisters or severe pain.
When treating sunburn:
• Avoid repeated sun exposure
• Apply cold compresses or immerse the sunburned area in cool water
• Apply moisturizing lotion to affected area
• Do not use salve, butter or ointment
• Do not break blisters
If you have an emergency call 9-1-1. For non-emergencies, call the Tempe Fire Department at 480-858-7200.